Turkey suspends anti-terrorism cooperation with Iraq

Türkiye Materials 29 October 2007 17:28 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - Turkey has suspended ratification of a bilateral anti-terrorism cooperation agreement with Iraq following the recent crisis over the presence of Kurdish militants on Iraqi territory, a Turkish newspaper reported Monday.

Ankara earlier rejected Iraqi proposals on resolving the situation, calling them "far from expected" and demanded that Iraq close down all Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) camps, including their training facilities, stop any assistance to PKK separatists and hand over Kurdish militant leaders.

The Cumhuriyet newspaper cited Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan as saying that Ankara expected swift and decisive action against the PKK from Iraqi authorities, and would not ratify the agreement signed in September 2007 until its demands were met.

The Turkish parliament sanctioned last week military cross-border operations against the PKK, based in northern Iraq, following an earlier government request and despite opposition from Washington and Baghdad.

Turkey has now amassed up to 150,000 troops for a cross-border military operation against around 3,500 PKK insurgents based in Iraq.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who earlier said Turkey would use the military option against the Iraq-based Kurdish rebels whenever it is needed and regardless of international pressure, will travel to Washington on November 5 to discuss the current crisis with U.S. officials.

Prior to his visit, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will discuss the same issue with the Turkish leadership in Ankara on November 2-3.

The PKK, listed by the U.S., NATO and the EU as a terrorist organization, has been fighting for autonomy status in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years. The conflict has so far claimed about 40,000 lives, including 80 Kurdish militants killed in special operations conducted by the Turkish army near the border with Iraq last week.